Wanderings of an artist in the trenches.

Archive for December, 2010

Paris – Part Seven

We got back to the hotel after fighting through piles of people swamping the subway cars. Getting our stuff and fighting those same crowds to get to the signing was not going to be fun. But we managed to get to the gallery on time regardless. There were already people waiting for me so I got right to sketches and signing.

Again, a great time was had by all. I got some fun sketches done and we sold several of the prints I’d brought with me as well as a couple of the portfolios. Everyone was incredibly nice and patient and I was able to get through everyone in the allotted couple of hours we had before Carl and I had to leave in order to catch our train back to Brussels. When we left it was snowing even harder and there were delays with the trains. We waited about an hour or longer for our train to finally leave. But we did get back safely.

This is the first trip to Belgium where I did not hit the countryside and visit the World War One sites. I miss going to Ypres and seeing the Last Post at the Menin Gate, or visiting the cemetery of Peter Kollwitz, Kathe Kollwitz’s son. But, I did finally see the Louvre and meet some incredibly nice people, which more than outweigh the other. I’m looking forward to coming back some time in the future.

As usual Carl Wykaert was the consummate host and spent so much of his precious time away from his family to make sure that I had a smooth time of it all. Thanks to his lovely wife for loaning him out for so long.

I’ve already packed and will be hitting the sack after these get posted. A long flight back tomorrow and then home again home again. As you can probably tell by the shortness of the text that I’m pretty wiped out. I’ll wrap up the trip either on the plane or after I get back.

More later…

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Paris – Part Six

Below a Delacroix.

Beautiful little Corot above. Couldn’t get enough of his pieces. Luckily there was a whole room devoted to him. I’ve always been moved by his landscapes.

And that’s just the few I was able to remember to take pictures of! As I said, the Louvre is just way to big to take it all in. So I cherry picked a bit. Was worn out by the end of our time there. Would love to have several more days there to really soak it all in. Maybe next time!

We visited the bookstore but were too wiped out to give it a thorough examination. Hit the Café and had a soda, then took off to head back to the hotel to get our stuff. When we stepped outside the snow was really coming down.

We rushed to get to the subway and saw the most ironic thing. We could hear a band playing a marching song, very upbeat, lots of gaiety, people were rushing out of the subway in droves and others were watching the band play. Right there in the middle of all this were two homeless people, one sleeping and the other sitting up, snow falling on them. Unbelievably sad. I was reminded of a beggar I saw in Prague, kneeling on hard cobblestones in an alleyway with busy throngs of people bustling by. Was also reminded of that scene in the film “Harold and Maude” where Harold and Maude follow the pallbearers out of the church as they carry the coffin to the hearse and there’s a band marching by playing a Sousa song in the middle of this melancholy scene.

More on the way…

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Paris – Part Five

Okay, more shots!

Rembrandt time! Rembrandt never ceases to amaze me with his skill, certainly, but also because of the humble nature of his work. As Raphael Soyer wrote in his wonderful book “A Painter’s Pilgrimage,” “I felt Rembrandt in the room with me.”

And it’s true, standing before those self-portraits one can feel Rembrandt standing beside you. Those kindly, sad eyes never fail to open my heart and release within me a flood of emotion. Since I was a child I have responded powerfully to Rembrandt’s work and that power he has over me has not faded over time. If anything it grows stronger.

Since Rembrandt is one of my all time favorite artists, I stopped at the above portrait to do a sketch in my sketchbook. Carl shot a few pics of me working.

The angle that I shot the sketch below makes his face look too thin. I’ll scan it later at home for a better representation.

More coming up…

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Paris – Part Four

Well, I’m sitting in my room now safely back in Brussels. I leave this coming morning back for the States after a great trip here.

This morning I got up and met Carl at the cafe where we had a nice breakfast before striking out for the Louvre. My signing wasn’t until 3 PM later this afternoon so we had plenty of time to explore the vastness of the museum. I may have to put this in a number of posts due to the amount of photos I have to share.

It was snowing like mad today and the ground was extremely slippery. We checked out of the hotel and left all our luggage with the concierge. We’d be back later to pick up everything to take with us to the gallery for the signing.

I’m embarrassed to say that as many times as I’ve been in Paris I’ve never gone to the Louvre. It seems that every time I’ve been here the lines were out of control and I just opted not to go and instead always loved lingering at the d’Orsay. So Carl was happy to be the first to get me into the Louvre.

We made good time through the museum, as I barreled along zooming to the paintings and painters I wanted to see. I’m sure I missed lots, but I got to see lots too. So, here are a few images of some of the pieces that were killing me today, some because they’re just a great paintings, others because they made me laugh.

I’m not going to go into any descriptions of these pieces or why they were killing me because to do so would just detract from the pieces themselves. NOTE: Most of the shots of the paintings are details and not full shots of the pieces.

More on the way…

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Paris – Part Three

Off for the Louvre! More paintings to see today! Then later I have my signing here at Petits Papiers Galerie which should be fun.

After a dinner tonight Carl and I head back to Brussels and then in the morning I head back to the States. It’s been a sort of whirlwind trip, but fruitful and fun.

More later, time permitting…

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Paris – Part Two

We left the auction house and walked along the Seine to the Musée d’Orsay where there was a Jean-Léon Gérôme exhibition covering the painter’s entire career.

The Gérôme show was incredible. Some of those paintings literally glowed. One that blew me away was of a market scene where color was being ground in large earthen pots. The entire scene was muted except for the colors in those pots, which were so vibrant! They had a gemlike quality about them. It was nice to see some of Gérôme’s famous works, “Pollice Verso”, “Phryne”, “The Serpent Charmer”, and many, many more. I’ve tried to find the market scene online to no avail. But here are a couple of the pieces seen today:

The show gave me new appreciation for Gérôme’s work, and I had no idea the amount of rancor he caused among painters and critics. Very interesting stuff.

But my real reason for going to the d’Orsay is to see the impressionist work there, as well as the Rodin and Camille Claudel sculptures. Those things alone make the d’Orsay one of my favorite places on the planet. And of course in the impressionist work, the painters that hits me hardest are Pissarro, Bonnard, Vuillard, Sisley, Degas and Monet. Cannot get enough of their work. Pissarro’s humble landscapes with his genius for subtle mauve kills me. I could stand in front of them for days and lose all sense of time. Then I step in front of Bonnard and Vuillard and am assaulted with color and design! Just lovely and daring.

After communing with these artists I then make my way upstairs to the Rodin and Claudel work, first to pause before a sculpture of a satyr by an artist I’m not familiar with. I pause here to sketch and let my back rest a bit before heading upstairs.

Then on to Rodin and Camille Claudel.

These sculptures move me to tears. The gestures, the subtle movement of muscle over bone, the twist of a finger, the turn of a wrist, an expression on a pained face! So much emotional content and empathy welling forth from these works! These pieces always make me want to draw, and of course, to sculpt. So I sketch from them today. I didn’t get any shots of the Claudel works, unfortunately, and my sketches are nothing to speak of so I won’t post them here either. But my sketch from Rodin’s “Ugolino” came out okay:

The museum closed shortly after I finished this sketch and we had to leave. I walked out of the museum pretty drained, as did Carl, so we headed on back to the hotel for a little rest before we went out for dinner.

Sketch of one of our fellow subway passengers.

After a little rest we got back on the subway and headed out near the Pompidou Center for dinner in a quaint French Cafe where the food was very good and we sat and chatted about philosophy again. After dinner back home and here I sit filling in the day’s happenings.

Tomorrow my signing is at 3:30 or so and we’ll bum around the city a bit beforehand.

More later…

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Got up early this morning, met Carl downstairs, checked out of the hotel and piled into his car headed for the train depot. Boarded the high-speed train bound for Paris. It was still snowing this morning and Carl said it’s a good thing we’re traveling by train as many roads are closed today. We got there in plenty of time to get situated on the train and get comfortable in our seats.

I was up all night posting the three entries. Because of the slow Internet connection I had a heck of a time getting them to post completely. I ended up splitting one into two sections so the upload was easier. Wacky. But they eventually got up there. I got no sleep, but figured I’d sleep on the train. This was not to be. But that, too, was fine.

The train was a very comfortable ride as it barreled through the Belgian and French countryside. The snow had blanketed the land and it was quite beautiful to see, covering the farmhouses and fields. While Carl read I busied myself with taking pictures out of the windows using my phone, then sketched in my sketchbook.

Blazing along at high speed, the camera was still able to grab some interesting bits.

Below are some sketches from my sketchbook of the countryside.

So the trip was pretty uneventful and the time flew by. The trip itself is only an hour or so by train. Very pleasant.

We pulled into the Paris – Terminus Nord, bailed out and exited the station. But always time for a couple of photos.

Our hotel, The Terminus Nord Mercure, is situated directly across the street from the terminal. A short 100 yards or so. Very convenient. The rooms are nice, each with its own bathroom. A step up for me as every time I’ve visited Paris I’ve gone the inexpensive route and everyone used a communal bath, or the shower was a small cubby off the stairwell with only a thin curtain to obfuscate the view.

My hotel window view.

We gave ourselves a bit of time to get situated then met downstairs to go into Paris proper. Carl had an errand to run, dropping off art at an auction house, where we got to see a couple of Hugo Pratt “Corto Maltese” pages. Beautiful examples of the early Corto work. There was also a wonderful, large Jacques Tardi oil painting of a Paris street scene. Very nice to see.

More later in part two…

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